Who would have thought that 300 grams of silicon sitting in your hands could give rise to so many emotions? At the start of “MatchAtria” each spectator is presented with a so-called “Heartbeat Unit”: a shimmering white artificial heart. What sounds cold and technical soon establishes an unexpected intimacy with the dancer: it is her heartbeat that pulsates in our hands! The title “MatchAtria” is a fusion of matcha, the tea served in the Japanese tea ceremony, and atria, the anatomical term for the heart’s blood collection chambers. It is a multimedia performance and from the off it launches an assault on the senses. The headphones create a surround sound in your ears and the 3D glasses you wear cause the video projections to curve vividly into the space around you. Figures atomise into a thousand particles, then the dancer’s body plunges again into a swarm of swirling cells, at another point the camera flies elegantly through forests and over the sea. Macro meets micro, the interior complements the exterior. Finally the visual journey leads directly into the heart, into the very last capillary. Language too is then added to the wealth of impressions. For non-native speakers – most of the people in the room – the significance of the Japanese text may remain closed off, but surprisingly a haptic alternative does present itself. Not only the heartbeat of the dancer is made palpable to the audience via the pulsating artificial heart, but even the whispered words generate vibrations. To achieve this the team has used “Tactile Scores” technology, a notation system which is actually brought to us via the field of facial massage. Highly concentrated, Yui Kawaguchi dances her way through this multi-layered score for 40 minutes. Although her movements are limited to a small space, with her supple arm and legwork she deploys an onstage presence that has something almost meditative about it. The piece provides an abundance of interpretations. Should it be understood as an ode to life? Does it open our eyes to Japanese tradition by translating the solemnity of the tea ceremony into a new artistic context? A bit of everything, one might think. There exists in Japanese the expression “Ichigo Ichie”. It is taken from Zen Buddhism and means something like “unique opportunity”, exactly what each tea ceremony seeks to celebrate. At the end of “MatchAtria” it is exactly this impression that arises: we have enjoyed Japanese hospitality in the form of a very special performance.
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